At my wits end with DS’s sleep! Emotional and feel like a failure.

(37 Posts)
Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 07:16:51

DS is 9 months old and has never been a great sleeper. Days and nights are difficult in different ways and I just feel like a failure with it all. He feeds to sleep but has self settled in the day time by himself.

I have tried so hard to implement a sleep routine in the day, I even signed up to the little ones sleep programme and it just doesn’t work! He will have a good day and have a 30 minute nap in the morning and then maybe an hour and a half around lunch time. The next day I’ll do the exact same thing, following the same awake windows and he’ll have a 20 minute morning nap and then wake up frequently during the long nap and then won’t resettle.

Yesterday for example, he had 3 20 minute naps which is nowhere near enough sleep. He took over an hour to settle at bedtime which is unusual and has been awake since 5:40 this morning when he usually sleeps until 7ish. He’s so overtired already and I just don’t know what to do.

No day is the same. When I first began following the little ones sleep programme I found it very restrictive and liked it sucked all of the enjoyment out of the day - constantly thinking he needs a feed at this time, must be in his bed by this time etc but I followed it anyway and it made no difference. Only affecting my mental wellbeing! So then I tried a more flexible approach just using the awake windows as a guide which works well on some days and then doesn’t on another day. I used the huckleberry app to predict nap times.

He’s still up 2/3 times a night and has a feed each time, he won’t settle for DP so it all falls to me. I’m ready to stop feeding him to sleep which I can do in the day but at night time how do I get him to have his bedtime milk (bottle refuser) without falling to sleep?!

My other issue is that I’m so tired so when he wakes during the night it’s easier to just feed him back to sleep rather than persevere with settling him another way so in a way I’m making the situation worse for myself but I’m so tired it’s all I can do.

I am exhausted and feel like his whole life I have been so focused on his sleep / routine which is not what I wanted at all. I’m worried he’s not getting enough sleep and this is going to affect him in some way.

Sorry for the long, rambled post.

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Forevercurious Fri 18-Sep-20 13:58:15

@Kty8901 I wish I knew what the answer was in regards to sleep training! I think I’m going to stop breastfeeding once he’s 12 months so I’m hoping that will help!

So yesterday was a great day in terms of naps, we followed the 2,3,4 method (well it was 2hrs 15, 3hrs 15 and 4) and he slept for 2 whole hours in his cot over lunch time! today hasn’t followed that at all as he fell asleep in the car on our way back from a baby class so a later lunch nap today!

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Kty8901 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:18:37


*@Fivebyfive2* well right now DS is asleep on me so that’s a total failure. He done an hour in his cot and then woke up, I resettled him by feeding but every time I tried to put him down he woke up so he’s having a cuddle! I’m hoping that by having a decent nap now he will have a better nights sleep so I can attempt it again tomorrow!

I think my biggest problem is that I can’t fully commit to any type of sleep training. One minute I’m desperate for him to self settle and the next I’m thinking “oh he’s only little once, enjoy this cuddles I’ll miss them one day etc”

Just wanted to say I totally get this in terms of not being able to commit. I feel very conflicted with my awful sleeping 7.5 month old... Part of me absolutely loves the cosleeping and cuddles but the other part desperately needs some sleep / evening with my husband back!

RandomMess Thu 17-Sep-20 08:35:42

Quite a lot of babies are down to 2 naps per day at 9 months - you then hit the dilemma of dropping the late afternoon nap and bringing forward bed time or let them have the nap and accept a later bed time.

Neither way matters btw.

Forevercurious Thu 17-Sep-20 07:39:36

@Crimblecrumble1990 - he usually wakes up quite happy, he’s generally a happy and content baby so I definitely have no complaints there! if I try and resettle him but he’s clearly wide awake, looking around or messing about then I just stop and assume nap time is over and he’s slept enough. But if he is clearly still tired he does resettle quite well.

@Hellothere19999 - that’s true and now I’m thinking why would I feel guilty about cuddling / holding my baby? Isn’t it funny how emotions and feelings can change day to day!

@JimandPam - Thank you, that sounds like a better self settling method which I think I could deal with!! The only issue I have is that DS will not just lay down in his cot, he’s crawling around or sitting up which makes these things a bit tricker. However that said I do think I need to commit to a method and give it a fair go without giving in so easily!

@Napqueen1234 congrats on baby number 2 being a sleeper 🎉😂 it’s very true that each baby is so different and I do need to stop focusing on what I’m doing ‘wrong’ or the fact he hasn’t done it ‘right’ as to him it’s not right or wrong - it’s just how he is or how he’s feeling!

@Astrid7 I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same position but I’m afraid I have no advice on the night feeds as I’m in the same boat. Some of my friends babies still work for feeds and they’re over a year! I do think it’s normal to wake for a feed but maybe not three or four (assuming they’re eating well at meal times and having enough milk during the day!) That said, I’m sure I was told that if baby has a proper feed at the first wake up and then wakes again soon after chances are it’s not hunger it’s comfort so try to settle without milk at this wake up - I never tried because tiredness always won but it could be something to consider?

He has begun waking when he’s put down in his cot and I wonder if this is part of the regression / separation anxiety as we’ve never had this issue before. I was also going to begin the 2,3,4 method today however he’s been awake since 6:30 which is still early for him so if he sleeps at 8:30 he’ll be awake by 9 meaning his lunch nap will be due at 12ish which is usually lunch time and then bedtime will probably be around 5:30 so I’m going to have to shuffle the timings slightly or do I stick to the 2,3,4 but squeeze in an extra nap around 4ish?

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Fivebyfive2 Thu 17-Sep-20 07:24:06

@Astrid7, I think if he is able to get back to sleep on his own if he doesn't and is really crying he probably still needs the feed? Maybe once he's on 3 meals a day think about trying to drop one feed at a time or push it back a bit and see how it goes?

Saying that, not sure why I'm giving advice as my 9 month old was up 5 times last night!! Hasn't been that bad for a while, not sure wtf is going on?!

Astrid7 Thu 17-Sep-20 06:52:53

It’s good to hear other people are feeding their little ones over night too! My baby boy is 7 months next week and I end up feeding him twice on a good night- around 11pm and 3am. He can self settle like a trooper, we have a good bedtime routine and I just put him down when he’s tired for naps in the day- usually about 2 hours after waking up, so a fairly loose daytime routine. We’ve just started weaning him around 6 months. Everything I read says he should be able to sleep through the night and I know he can as he’s done 7/8 hours before when he’s been tired and I’ve been stubborn enough not to give in. But I find it so hard to convince myself night after night over and over again that he doesn’t need a feed when he’s screaming! How do you know if he’s being as stubborn as me and just wants the comfort? Sometimes it’s obvious as he doesn’t take much before he’s asleep again but sometimes he has a good feed??! He’s exclusively bf. Any advice on what to expect with nighttime feedings??


Napqueen1234 Wed 16-Sep-20 21:34:57

OP it’s so hard my first DD was a hopeless sleeper (I too got the slightly crap little ones programme and found it useless).

DC2 is a better sleeper (8.5 months) our routine

6:30 wake up (6oz bottle)
7:15 breakfast
9-10 nap
10:00 5oz bottle
11:45 lunch
12-2 long nap
2:00 6oz bottle
4-4:45 nap
5:00 dinner
6:30 3 oz bottle
7:00 bed

Looks rigid but we are flexible around those times and she will nap in car/pram etc so that’s good.

Honestly a lot of it is just the child. DC2 fell into a great routine and slept through more than 7 months before my first. I’m not a better parent this time, maybe she’s a better baby?! grin She still definitely needs 3 naps but some need 2 at this age. It’s frustrating when they don’t do it ‘right’ and you do everything to follow the guide and they wake early etc (I remember it well) but one day it will be distant memory!

JimandPam Wed 16-Sep-20 21:09:52

So I have also forked out for the Little Ones programme 🙋🏻‍♀️

But like you, I hated it and it just made me so so stressed. I felt there was no flexibility and I was always anxious for the next thing on the routine.

My DS is just 9 months now and I'm out the other side and we have found something that works and he is a happy sleeper and happy napper but it's been a long road of trial and error.

I would also say I do miss him falling asleep on me and cuddles. But it got to the point with DS that he just refused to sleep whether I held him or not so I really needed to try something. And I now get 2.5-3 hours a day to myself which I do enjoy and feel I'm better organised and spend time thinking about what we're going to do when he's awake.

I would caveat what we did by saying I don't think there is a one size fits all. My DS hated controller crying and got more and more worked up. He didn't really respond to bum pats either... but the gradual retreat worked amazingly.

I do think LOs has some great tips on how to break away from sleep aids. This is the one thing I rated! For us, it wasn't feeding to sleep but was the dummy. We ditched it following LO in 3 nights so it might be worth trying to break this habit first if you are going to work on some training?

Before doing the sleep training, we put a routine in place. Luckily we used it from 12 weeks. We do it for naps and everything. And I'm talking to the letter, same lullaby's, same order of things, same pink noise. Everything is exactly the same. This has also meant he can nap in other locations as these elements are always the same and are familiar to him.

With the gradual retreat, I sat on a chair over his cot and put him down awake but having done our go to bed routine. I sang, shushed and hummed to him and put my hand in to stroke his belly, forehead or just place a comforting hand on. After a minute, I took my hand away but kept on shushing/humming/singing or comforting words. After 2 minutes without my hand, I put my hand back in.
And the above on repeat. I found because I wasn't coming and going, he whined a bit but never got really upset and after 35 mins just went to sleep.

I did the above for naps too and on the second night he was asleep in 10 with no whining.

Night 3 I only offered my hand if he got upset.

Night 4 I moved the chair so he couldn't see me but still sung or shushed him.

At this point, you're supposed to be able to just leave but I enjoy watching him fall asleep so I've always stayed in the room.

The second night I followed this he slept through. He now has two solid naps a day and sleeps 11 hours overnight. And usually takes 5 minutes to get to sleep.

If you want to embark on some sleep training then it is really about consistency and sticking with something-but I also think you know you're own child enough to know what isn't working. I stopped during several attempts as I could see he wasn't responding.

Equally-it's great to have cuddles so if you're enjoying them then don't let anyone tell you to stop because 'he should be sleeping through'. Most other 9 month olds I know are still having at least one feed overnight so I don't think you're alone!!

Hellothere19999 Wed 16-Sep-20 20:39:34

@Fivebyfive2 I’m glad you agree! It’s such a shame they con tired mums. And they give the refunds so quickly that I’m so suspicious now lol.

i really don’t think you should feel guilty about letting him sleep on you!!!! As long as he is getting some sleep that’s all that counts. I let my daughter sleep on me and she goes in the cot too. My partner knows he must be quiet during bedtime and nap time or he will be getting told off 😂
In that situation you describe I have found a quick walk outside resets the tiredness and it means your OH can do it and you can have a brew 😅

Good luck and I always think it helps to remember that it’s not forever and also everything is new and exciting to them and their brains are doing a lot of work. Sometimes my daughter really fights going to sleep aswell. It’s hard. But you’ll get there x

Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 19:55:55

@Crimblecrumble1990, I love your username 😀

Crimblecrumble1990 Wed 16-Sep-20 19:26:42

Hi. I am also relieved to hear what you say about the little ones programme. I have it but have been putting off doing it as I feel a bit sad about having such a strict routine. Especially now we are only just able to start going to baby classes and seeing more people I don't want to feel like we are in lockdown again.

If your little one has a shorter nap than planned, does he wake up content? Or wake up and is clearly still tired? If mine wakes up happy enough then I assume he has had enough sleep. If he wakes up screaming or grumpy I try my hardest to get him to go back to sleep but sometimes it just won't happen and I have to grit my teeth for a grumpy baby for the rest of the day. Will be watching this thread with interest!

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 19:20:31

@Hellothere19999 thank you for your perspective - it’s definitely helpful to read! I agree he was definitely overtired yesterday and last night. He has slept much better today 30 mins this morning, lunch nap was an hour and a half but half hour of that was on me and then another 25 minutes in the car this evening so I was hoping for a good evening / night with him!

He was settling to sleep this evening (being fed!) until DP came back in the room banging in his drawers. DS then got distracted, started to mess around and wouldn’t feed so I’ve now left DP upstairs trying to settle him for a few minutes. It won’t work and I’ll end up back up there but it frustrates me that DP doesn’t think about these things as it’s usually me who deals with it 😡 well not anymore! He’s got to try and settle him if he disturbs him.

@Fivebyfive2 completely agree about the sleep training cycle - that’s me 100% added in with the thoughts of he’s only a baby once!

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Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 18:59:16

@Hellothere19999, I agree so hard with your post! Especially about the sleeping programmes, I wish I hadn't bothered!

@forevercurious, just to keep with the solidarity... Today Joe woke at 5.30 instead of 6.His lunch nap was only about 1.25 hours. So usually in these circumstances he'd need a 'tip up' cat nap about 4ish...didn't happen, so he went to bed at 6. 45 tonight. Now all bets are off as to if he sleeps well (with just the usual feeds in the night) or if he decides to have a 2am party. Wish me luck!

I think the sleep train debate is a vicious circle if you're like me... When they're sleeping fairly OK you think 'aaah we're managing and they'll get there' and when it's bad enough to seriously consider it, you feel too tired to see it through?!

Hellothere19999 Wed 16-Sep-20 15:03:05

Hi! My kid is about 8 1/2 months. Her sleep isn’t amazing but it is ok. I have bought some sleep training programmes at times but ended up getting refunds coz they just tell you what you already know. I now pretty much follow my baby’s cues so this is our typical day:

6.30/7 she begins to stir in her cot so I grab her quickly and feed her in bed so we can get another 30 minutes of snoozing in. Usually works if I keep my eyes closed 😂

9am brekky, porridge or omelette etc.

Little play and then depending on when she fully woke up I go for nap time around 3 hours after waking.

Naps for usually 2 ish hours but sometimes less. If it’s less I just get her up, get some lunch, go out for a walk and get some fresh air and then back home for an early afternoon nap to try and stretch it out.

When she awakes I give her her tea, playtime. And then begin quietening down for bed.

Depending when she woke up I go for about 3 maybe 3 and half hours before bedtime.
We get ready for bed and do a quick little walk as it calms her down and then feed to sleep and pop her in the cot.

She does not sleep all night, often needs resettling and a couple of feeds. I have found that this less pressure approach really helps me mentally. I just loosely know that after about 3 hours she will need to sleep. I don’t care about feeding or not feeding her to sleep. She’s a baby. She’s my baby. And I’ll do what I want as long as she is happy and healthy and getting enough sleep ( which she is ).

I am no expert but it does sound like your LO is overtired. I have found that waking up... eating then playing then getting ready for sleep with quiet time has helped us but everyday is different and there are times where everything is too exciting and she will not nap at all 🤦🏻‍♀️ I think there are so many phases and things going on in their little brains and bodies that sometimes all you can do is just let them be🤷🏻‍♀️ They will sleep when they need to and it really can’t be helped sometimes. I think people put too much pressure on Mums. I also think some sleep programmes play on this and con you into paying for information you can find out for yourself for free.

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 14:46:57

@Fivebyfive2 well right now DS is asleep on me so that’s a total failure. He done an hour in his cot and then woke up, I resettled him by feeding but every time I tried to put him down he woke up so he’s having a cuddle! I’m hoping that by having a decent nap now he will have a better nights sleep so I can attempt it again tomorrow!

I think my biggest problem is that I can’t fully commit to any type of sleep training. One minute I’m desperate for him to self settle and the next I’m thinking “oh he’s only little once, enjoy this cuddles I’ll miss them one day etc”

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Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 14:24:33

@forevercurious, yep that's the gist with 2,3,4! Like I say, sometimes he's up a bit longer in the morning or shorter at night... Sometimes I squeeze a quick cat nap in about 4ish if his 2 naps are short. He's only just started doing the longer naps recently and it does not always pan out, but it's better than it was.

Definitely know what you mean about picking your battles with self soothing too. I always aim to do it, but still feed to sleep loads 😕 It's so hard when you know you 'shouldn't' but also know it will work!

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 12:57:57

Lots of great ideas and responses thank you very much :D I’m feeling a lot better about it all now, after his morning nap I ‘restarted’ the day. Some days are just hard aren’t they?

I attempted the shush / pat method just now and it didn’t work. DS wouldn’t even lay down, kept sitting up and crawling around whilst crying and getting more and more upset.

I’m going to leave the attempts for self settling for today as he just seems too upset today. Hoping to try fresh tomorrow smile I will definitely look into the book that’s been recommended and the 2,3,4 method!

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Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 12:53:18

@Fivebyfive2 hello smile it’s quite nice seeing familiar people on here - definitely makes me feel like I’m not alone! thank you so much for your supportive words but I’m sorry you’re still struggling too!

Is the 2,3,4 method literally awake for 2 hours, nap, awake for 3 hours, nap awake for 4 hours and then bed? if so I think may give that a go!

Your DS seems to nap well 2x 1hr 30 mins nap - id love for that!!

Thankyou for sharing your routine. I definitely need to try and distance milk feeds from nap time!

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RubaiyatOfAnyone Wed 16-Sep-20 10:05:27

Dd2 is 9 months and i did controlled crying (go back in to comfort after 1 min, 2 mins, 3 mins etc, no feeding) because the lack of sleep was killing me.

That worked in 3 days, but as i’m sure you know there is a sleep regression around 8/9 months that results from them learning knew physical skills (which is VERY exciting in a baby brain) and also increased separation anxiety because they now know you can leave. Both these calm down in a few weeks, but it leads to quite an unsettled patch whilst they do - dd suddenly had difficulty going to bed at bedtime, which was never an issue before.

Ultimately, all babies are different, but i can say that my biggest advantage is having been through it all with dd1 and knowing it will ultimately all work itself out, so i am much more sanguine about it all this time round. This too shall pass etc smile

shreddednips Wed 16-Sep-20 10:02:11

I'm pretty sure we used a 2,3,4 routine at this age, although I was always flexible with it when we went out or it sucks the fun out of everything. When you're at home, try using a mini version of the bedtime routine for naps so that it's clear to baby that it's bedtime- for us it was sleeping bag on, milk, a cuddle sitting in the dark in his room and then pat and shush to sleep. If you use pat and shush, I found that then you can start to slowly reduce the support that you give to fall asleep (so a hand on the tummy, then sitting next to the bed and shushing, then popping in and out for example).

It takes a long time but worth it in the long run I think, my friends that did controlled crying had quicker results but I just didn't feel it was right for me and DS at this age, especially as the patting and shushing worked. It took a few goes but was like magic!

When he got a little bit older I did do a sort of controlled crying as he stopped self setting, I left the bedroom door open and popped in and out every couple of minutes. I felt more comfortable with that because I wasn't leaving him for long and he got used to it quite quickly. My mum told me to keep it sympathetic but quite firm 'oh dear, don't worry you'll be asleep in a minute. I'm just popping out to check the dinner/put a wash on/scream into a cushion, I'm coming back'. A little 2 minute job so that you're not sitting there stressing out, then back in. Some people might find it mean but he was much happier when he slept better. Another good piece of advice she gave me was if him or you get really hysterical, give him a cuddle and don't ignore your instinct to comfort him. It's challenging but it shouldn't be horrible.

My other tip is to tackle settling without milk at bedtime and nap time first before you start worrying about the night wakes. It's too much at once otherwise and you might find the night waking improves when he can nod off on his own.

Sorry for the long post, hopefully it's helpful! If it makes you feel better, my chap was similar at the same age and was (mainly) sleeping through the night by one. There are lots of bumps in the road with sleep, don't feel guilty or like it's your fault in some way. It's just babies doing what babies do, but it's really tough on parents.

avidteadrinker Wed 16-Sep-20 09:36:04

A book that really helped us was ‘the good sleeper’, like any book you take bits from it which help you (we didn’t do the cry it out bit), it talks about reducing night feeds in a gentle way so their metabolism adjusts accordingly.
We tackled each problem one at a time, otherwise it will overwhelm both you and the baby.
Also, whatever method you choose to achieve your goals, you have to persist with it otherwise nothing will change

Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:27:48

So our routine, such as it is...

Wake around 6am, has a feed
Breakfast around 6.30/7
Nap at around 8ish, usually for about 1.5 hours. Fed to sleep but trying to break this!
Feed around 11
Lunch about 12
Nap at around 1. Fed to sleep but trying to break! Aim for at least 1.5 hours, hopefully 2 hours here, even if I have to re settle him.
Then a feed about 4 and tea at 5pm
Bed around 7pm. Not much of a 'ritual' because baths, massage etc just made him excited! We get him in pj's, brush teeth, put his songs on the stereo (he likes the light) to chill him out. Up to bed, dark room, ollie owl is on. Has a feed/cuddle. Trying self settling but you never know...
Wakes 2 to 4 times a night. Usually 2 though recently.

If his naps in the day are shorter, we have a walk about 4 and he usually nods of in the buggy, just to keep him going until bedtime.

Not exact times and some days it's all out the window entirely, but it's what I aim for most days now.

Lalala13 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:25:45

I’m just reading this thinking the same but with my 5 month old, last night she was overtired I tried from 7pm to 10.30 to get her to sleep, cried because my milk wouldn’t settle her, she was crying, I feed to sleep and then feel guilty when I can’t get her to sleep.

Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:19:16

@Forevercurious, hello again, I think we might actually have the same baby as I can see from our threads and the Dec baby thread they are very similar with sleep!

I'm still feeding to sleep and ds isn't in his own room yet. Sometimes I feel like a failure too, but honestly try to cut yourself a break if you can. You say weaning is going well and that he's happy and hitting his milestones; my boy is the same and I've decided to see this as a massive win to make myself feel better!

I too tried the little ones programme and found it too restrictive. It's almost a relief to hear I'm not the only one as everyone seems to rave about it.

Something I'm trying now is the 2,3,4 routine. Although sometimes it's give or take 30 mins either way, depending on how tired he is.

Self settling is verrry hit and miss. No real advice I'm afraid, I might steal some tips from other replies on here though! I mostly just wanted to offer solidarity. Hopefully our babies will get there soon... Until then, please remember you are awesome! Xxx

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 09:01:25

Thank you everyone for your responses, there’s lots to take on board!

Just tried and failed at self settling for his nap this morning. We had got to a point before where he could be put down in his cot awake during the day and he’d grizzle a bit and then go off but this morning he was just hysterical. Even when cuddling and rocking him he was just so upset so I gave in and fed him. I know I’m making it worse but it seems like such a cycle to be stuck in, I hate seeing him cry and end up crying with him.

I think our whole day needs a shake up with milk feed times and nap times - would anyone mind sharing their routine for a baby at this age? Thanks smile

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